The country’s weather bureau gets revitalized as President Benigno S. Aquino III signed into law Republic Act 10692 or An Act Providing for the Modernization of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Providing Funds Therefore and for Other Purposes, last November 3, 2015.

The law compels the weather bureau, an agency under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), to modernize its technological operational capacity and strengthen its role as the premier national weather agency to attain its vision as a center of excellence for weather-related information services.

The modernization will cover PAGASA’s modernization of its physical resources and operational techniques, which shall entail the acquisition and/or upgrading of state-of-the-art instruments, equipment, facilities and systems, with emphasis on weather and flood monitoring and warning system and agro-meteorological observation system to strengthen services for agriculture and food security.

It will also enhance its research and development capabilities and establish regional weather service centers as well as the DOST-PAGASA data center, which shall include the centralization of the different technical outputs including data and statistics derived from the PAGASA operations and systems.

A regional and international cooperation program will also boost the agency’s collaboration with relevant international bodies and government institutions to complement its modernization efforts.

Aside from these, it will enhance weather data collection and information dissemination, which aims to develop and use effective weather information method using local dialects, non-technical terms and familiar graphical presentations to ensure a laymanized delivery of hydrometeorological information for greater public awareness and to draw appropriate response for disaster risk reduction.

Also included is the creation of a human resource development program and development of a new salary scale and additional incentives for its personnel. Likewise, it will enable scholarship programs for undergraduate and graduate studies to sustain the needed number of experts in meteorology and other related fields.

Modernization funds

Initially, the amount of P3 billion, which shall be taken from the National Government’s share in the gross income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, will jumpstart the modernization plan. Two years after the effectivity of RA 10692, at least P1.5 billion will be released to PAGASA every year. The entire P3billion shall be used exclusively for capital outlay.

The law will allow PAGASA to avail loans, grants, bequests, and donations from local or foreign financial institutions for further enhancement of its operations. PAGASA shall also be given the right to monetize its specialized products and services and cost recovery program to earn revenues from its issuance of specialized weather products and services, especially those related to aviation and maritime industry, weather certifications, and scientific and technical publications.

According to DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo, the enactment of the modernization law is a necessary development as weather conditions are becoming more severe as the years advance.

“We at DOST commend our legislators and the President for setting this vital legislation into motion.” Montejo said. “This only proves that the government is looking after the welfare of its people. And with the modernization of PAGASA and Project NOAH’s platform for disaster risk early warning, and the full cooperation of the public, we guarantee that in the coming years, our nation will no longer grieve for the loss of lives during calamities.”

The Modernization Act shall take effect 15 days after its publication in at least two newspapers of general circulation. (S&T Media Service)